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Seth C Thomas

Seth C Thomas

Seth C. Thomas


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ORCiD: 0000-0001-7966-7526


Academic profile

I graduated from the University of Plymouth in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology. Since then, I’ve worked as a freelance writer, writing and blogging on all things science as well as in other fields. Writing is something that I have decided to continue part time while further progressing my scientific career. The first step on this path was working in a environmental analysis lab for Huntingdon Life Sciences, during which I was given an insight into the world of chromatography. This led me nicely up to the start of my current PhD programme at UEA, working with Dr Gill Malin and Dr Martin Johnson investigating the global importance of diatoms as DMSP producers.

Working with diatoms is fascinating, yet a departure from my research comfort zone. In previous research projects, I’ve worked with a group of scientists investigating the impact of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms. For further details on this work, please refer to the publications section of this profile. Although my current work is a new direction for me, it’s an exciting challenge that I will relish throughout the coming years. I find the intricacies of phytoplankton biogeochemical cycling absolutely fascinating, and I am continually amazed by the level of life that goes unseen in as little as a single drop of sea water.

PhD title and current research

The title of my PhD programme is ‘Do Diatoms Play An Important Global Role in the Production of DMS and it’s Precursor DMSP?’. In order to give a well rounded view of the topic and to gain as many skills as possible during my time as a PhD student, my supervisory team and I have decided to take a multifaceted approach to answering this question. Here, we will combine numerous techniques such as gas chromatography and fluorescence microscopy to attempt to unravel the intricate web of processes and limiting factors associated with diatomatic DMSP production.

This research is very relevant to modern science, and particularly climate change. DMS is a climatically active gas, which not only is a key transport pathway in the sulphur cycle, but also has potential counter active effects on global warming. This is due to the sulphur contained in the compound acting as cloud condensation nuclei increasing the Earth’s albedo and solar reflection, thus cooling temperatures. It was previously though that DMSP was only produced in significant volumes by Dinophyceae and Prymesiophyceae, however this has been shown not to be the case. By investigating diatoms, we can build a clearer and more accurate picture of global DMS cycling, as well as aim to add their production levels to existing global models to better predict changing global temperatures.

Research groups

Climate, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) research theme, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA

Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Defra.

Other activities

Currently, I run a blog for the EnvEast DTP student cohort. Here, myself and guest bloggers give an insight into life as part of the EnvEast cohort, as well as PhD research in general.